Posted: 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013
By Hank Rippetoe
The official written offers were sent out on August 1st. Matt Elam and Drew Barker tweeted photographs of their letters the following day. If the twenty-two National Letters of Intent are faxed back on National Signing Day, Kentucky will have its best class ever for the second consecutive year.
Here's an assumption for you to chew on if all the guys sign with the Cats. Currently, the Cats stand at # 4 behind Tennessee, Florida State and Miami. Tennessee has 2253 points, Florida State has 2076 points, Miami has 1993 points and Kentucky has 1973 team points. There has been some speculation where UK will fall in the final rankings but, I think most fans expect us to be in the top 20. In my opinion, we're likely already there and we could wind up in the top 15. What if I suggested UK could possibly fall within a top 10 ranking? It's possible.
I decided to take a look at the Rivals Team Rankings from 2002 through 2014 and compare Kentucky's 1973 points to other teams with similar points after National Signing Day. Here's what I found:
Obviously, Kentucky isn't going to stay as the #4 team if we don't get more commitments, and I think they need to be 4 star commitments. But, if we don't get any commitments from here on out, you can see where we could fall with 1973 points at the end of the 2014 recruiting cycle. The worst would be #16 like South Carolina last year. The best would be #6 like Georgia in 2003. It should be noted that Rivals has changed the way they calculate team points a couple of times, but still...
If you look at the teams in the table, Kentucky is definitely the Cinderella of the ball. Kentucky is the only team on the table who has an overall all-time losing record. Plus, the Wildcats seem to be the only team who had a losing record the year before on the field. So, I guess calling Mark Stoops our Prince Charming would be accurate.
According to several reports, Kentucky will sign 27 recruits for 2014. Some have even suggested that we can go with 28. That would allow for another five or six commitments. One of those spots is reserved for Matt Elam who should become a Rivals 4 star before the end of the season. Rivals is the only service that ranks him as a 3 star. 247 Sports has him as a 5 star. The truth is more likely in the middle,considering he also has offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame and Tennessee. I'll only mention in passing that he also has offers from Indiana, Purdue, Louisville, WKU and EKU because these schools are going to have to learn the meaning of "Fat Chance."
So who else is likely to commit to Kentucky? Here are the candidates as far as I can tell:
WR Moral Stephens (5.8) 4 star from Perry, Florida
ATH Marshon Lattimore (6.0) 4 star from Cleveland, Ohio
S Erick Smith (5.8) 4 star from Cleveland, Ohio
OL Marcelys Jones (5.8) 4 star from Cleveland, Ohio
WR Braxton Berrios (5.8) 4 star from Raleigh, North Carolina
ATH T.J. Harrell (5.7) 3 star from Tampa, Florida
WR Dorian Baker (5.7) 3 star from Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jones has committed to Ohio State, but has expressed interest in Kentucky and the SEC. He, Lattimore and Smith are all from Ohio State's chief feeder program at Cleveland's Glenville HS. All three enjoyed their trip down for the Friday Night Blue Lights Camp. Capturing all three falls into the realm of low probability. You have to consider the possibility of getting at least one of them, which would shock the recruiting world. All three, however, are expected by the experts to sign with Ohio State. If we have a Marrow Miracle moment, queue up the theme song from Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone."
Braxton Berrios just received a bunch of "luv" letters(over 100) from the Kentucky staff and Drew Barker has recruited him hard. Berrios has played his cards close to his vest, but he did stay a few days after the July camp to hang out with guys like Barker and Elam.
Moral Stephens needs to get his parents up to Lexington for a visit.
T.J. Harrell just happens to be Chad Scott's cousin so there is the family connection to ponder.
Finally, Dorian Baker fell in love with Kentucky after he attended the above mentioned camp last month. Needless to say, he impressed the coaching staff and received an offer.
I didn't include Tyre Brady who has already prematurely committed. He has to take care of some academic issues, but could wind up signing.
Kentucky is still trying to flip Nick Glass away from Georgia, according to Cats Illustrated. There are other highly rated recruits out there who are giving Kentucky a look. Plus, Kentucky has offered some pretty good JUCOS.
2013 recruits Justin Day and Alvonte Bell could not gain entrance at UK and have to go the JUCO route. That has no effect on the 2014 class because they signed their Lettesr Of Intent back in February. The situation does, however, affect the 2015 recruiting class.
While the possibilities appear bright, the reality as it now stands is pretty awesome when you consider our prospects back in November before and immediately after the Vanderbilt game.